Color, 2010, 96m.
Directed by Radu Muntean
Starring Mimi Branescu, Maria Popistasu, Mirela Oprisor
Second Run (DVD) (UK R0 PAL), Lorber (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9) / DD2.0

Nightbirds Cinematic studies of infidelity have a sturdy fixture around the world since the art form began, but you'll find something a bit different in this unassuming but powerful Romanian drama. Unfolding in a string of long takes without any background score, it charts the evolving dilemma of Paul (Branescu), a man in love with tNightbirdswo women. The first is Raluca (Popistasu), the woman he's seen enjoying an intimate afternoon with in bed during the protracted opening scene. The other is his wife, Adriana (Oprisor), with whom he has a child. Oh, and Raluca is also the family dentist. Soon he decides that with Christmas approaching, he must make a final choice between the two that will determine the course of the rest of his life.

There may not be a profound symbolic message underlying this film, but it's a striking experience thanks to its confident scope lensing and extremely impressive performances by the leads, who must navigate through some incredibly dense and tricky scenes that don't always pay off with the expected emotional fireworks. The nudity-filled opening sequence drew a lot of attention at festival screenings, but it's probably the easiest one the actors had to play given the extreme realism sought by director Radu Muntean. This little film Nightbirdswon't be for all tastes, something everyone involved seemed to be aware of from the start; however, if you'd like to spend time getting to explore the challenging nature of human relationships with a nice visual sensibility and a trio of impressive performances, definitely seek this one out.

The first English-friendly DVD of Tuesday, After Christmas appeared in 2011 from Lorber, in a bare bones presentation. Continuing its laudable balance of international films both past and present, the UK label Second Run has treated it with much more attention including a new director-approved transfer (it looks gorgeous and features optional English subtitles), along with a 17-minute interview with director Radu Munteam by Mihai Chirilov. (Amusingly, this also takes place framed at 2.35:1 in a single take of both men at a table.) The director goes into detail about how the project originated and getting realistic reactions from his actors which could only be achieved using professionals. Also included is a liner notes booklet containing an essay by Damon Smith, including a Q&A with the director covering actor rehearsals, the problems with Romanian film schools, and why his film is an alternative to Pirates of the Caribbean.

Reviewed on May 20, 2012.